This “Overlooked Delicacy” Deserves a Spot on Your Holiday Menu

This “Overlooked Delicacy” Deserves a Spot on Your Holiday Menu

Clams in South Carolina are harvestable when they reach 1-inch thickness. (Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

Clams in South Carolina are harvestable when they reach 1-inch thickness. (Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

The best clam recipes may all be the province of New England, but the clams themselves don’t have to be.

The hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) is quite at home on the shores of South Carolina, where it inhabits sandy and shelly substrates and lives in concentrated groups. Like oysters, these bivalves are filter feeders that spawn during the warmer months. Clams and oysters share the same season for harvesting (typically open from October to May). Anyone with a saltwater recreational fishing license can harvest these bivalves in public shellfish grounds -- but clamming is not always easy work. If you’re short on time, you can look for fresh clams at your local seafood market or substitute canned clams.

Today we’re sharing a traditional clam pie recipe from SCDNR’s 1987 Recreational Shellfish Guide, whose author's description of the clam as an “overlooked delicacy” shows that oysters have always reigned supreme among South Carolina shellfish. But this belly-warming comfort food, a great fit for the holidays, reminds us why clams still deserve a spot at the table. 

Clam Pie

24 cherrystones or 1 dozen chowder clams, shucked and drained
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium potato, grated
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup celery, minved
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 strips crisp bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter
Rich pastry dough for a 2 crust pie
¾ teaspoon poultry seasoning

Chop clams by hand or in food processor. Beat one egg with the cream. Combine with clams, onion, potato, pepper, poultry seasoning, celery, parsley, and bacon. Refrigerate.

Prepare pastry dough and line 9-inch pie plate or 8-inch soufflé dish with half the dough. Fill with clam mixture and dot with butter. Add the top crust – crimp edges tightly and make a few slits for steam to escape. Brush top with remaining egg beaten with water. Place in preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes.


Learn more about harvesting shellfish in South Carolina here. Leave us a comment if you’re interested in a clamming how-to on the blog!

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